Pradeep Pattanayak

With Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik giving a ‘Pattachitra’ to Pope Francis in Vatican City as a gift, another glorious chapter has been added to the heritage craft village of Raghurajpur in Puri district. 

Raghurajpur, which is about 12 kilometres from the holy town of Puri, is famous for ‘Pattachitra’, an ancient art of painting on palm leaves. Here in the village, each villager is a ‘Pattachitra’ artist. As you enter the village, artists busy at work will welcome you. 

Here lives artist Apindra Swain and his family. Recently, starting from media people to fellow artists have been thronging at his residence since the news of the Chief Minister giving his ‘Pattachitra’ to Pope Francis as a gift broke. 

“After coming to know that our Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has gifted my painting to the Pope, my happiness knew no bound,” said Swain. 

CM Naveen Patnaik meets PopeCM Naveen Patnaik meets Pope


“I am unable to recall how my painting reached the CM. Every day tourists, visitors and government officials come to my workshop and purchase my works. Some of my works are also sold online. As of now, I can’t recall who and when the painting was bought. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is the fact that our painting has reached Vatican City,” Swain boasted. 

Regarding the title of the painting, Swain said, “The title of my work is ‘Tree of Life”. In it, I have shown a well grown tree, with birds like peacock and heron plying on it and animals under its shade. It took me 15 to 20 days to complete it.  I want to depict the importance of tree in our life.”

“Due to unmindful felling of trees, greenery is fast decreasing which is why we are facing the consequences of global warming. Through this painting, I want to send out a message that all should plant at least a tree so that the lost greenery should be get replenished. I am happy that my message has now reached Rome through our CM,” said an elated Swain. 

Notably, this ancient art form of Odisha had hugged limelight last time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his meet with his Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen at her 18th century official residence Marienborg on May 3 spotted a ‘Pattachitra’ painting adorning the wall of the 18th century mansion. Prime Minister Modi had gifted the painting to her, depicting ‘Ram Durbar’, when she had visited India last year.